Russian metallers Blacksword are back, and it’s clear that they mean business if a few listens to their new album Alive Again are anything to go by…
Alive Again is a rip-roaring journey across the badlands of power metal; And, although the band struggle to carve out any identity of their own over the course of the album’s nine tracks, their commitment to delivering pure heavy metal can’t be faulted. There isn’t a moment on the album when you won’t feel like banging your head, playing frantic air guitar or screaming like a banshee along with vocalist Mike Livas.
Livas is the key here, the possible missing link between Blacksword and a position of comfort in the upper ranks of Europe’s power metal elite. Already seen this year on Empire of Sins by Silent Winter, his vocals elevate every song to heights previously unimagined by people who may have stumbled across Blacksword’s early work. On the title track, an eight minute trad metal tour de force, he gives one of the metal vocal performances of the year, constantly morphing his vocals to fit the mood of the music, in the process sounding like Geoff Tate in his pomp one moment, Eric Adams the next… you get the picture. It’s a breathtaking piece of work, but Blacksword isn’t just about the voice. Denis Grebenkin and Artem Omelenchuk pour on the six string agony throughout, with the title track again exhibiting their savage smarts to the best advantage.
Elsewhere the likes of Barbarian Born and The Last Viking are almost as good, whilst Cave of The Witch also deserves a mention in dispatches; All are absolutely top draw in conception, ambition and execution, and props must go to band leader and bassist Ivan Viking for keeping this project together until it could become fully and wonderfully realised. Blacksword are indeed alive again!
Alive Again releases today (July 30th).